Planning your DevRel career

What is the career path in developer relations and how can you build a long-term plan for your own DevRel career?

Jessica Rose has built a reputation for championing and mentoring people through their developer relations careers. In this talk from DevRelCon London 2019, she shares practical advice on how to plan and manage your own dev rel career.


  • Tips to work on for breaking into DevRel

    • Presentation skills

    • Your code skills

    • Your documentation

    • Running events

    • Teaching

  • A major tip for folks already in DevRel -- avoid burning out.

  • Whenever you see a job listing that looks exciting to you, go ahead and take a screenshot.

  • Fan-shaped goals? A way to track and build towards multiple goals at the same time.


Breaking into DevRel

  • Interactivity -- one of the first steps towards DevRel, interacting with people in general, taking part in conversations, helps build relationships -- builds up your resume for community skills -- part of DevRel.

  • Presentations

    • On stage presentations/talks

    • Speaking at local meet-ups

    • Podcasts is a very scalable

Is it really necessary to get on stage to break into DevRel? Jess thinks otherwise.

  • Not all folks who work in developer relations do write code or even can write code.

    • But if you want to get started in writing code

      • Start a side project - learn to code

      • Made a tutorial and post it online

      • Working on open source projects or reviewing pull requests.

  • Writing or reviewing documentation

  • Writing a tutorial

    • demonstrates the kind of teaching and communication skills I think are really valuable for developer relations.

  • Organizing/volunteering for local events

  • Demonstrate some level of teaching

  • Give workshops

  • Mentor low-code/code/no-code meetups/workshops


  • Whenever you see a job listing that looks exciting to you, go ahead and take a screenshot.

    • If you are breaking into the field -- helps you keep a track of various descriptions to asses where you currently stand.

    • If you are already into the field -- helps you keep a track of what your current goals stand.

      • Tracks the job description, lower or higher than your current job -- helps to determine what your goals at that point of time were, looking back after 6 months, you'll have a much clear head as to where and where your goals lied at that point of time.

  • Make a resume and keep it updated.

Already in DevRel

The first thing is just stay as okay as you can.

  • Avoid burning out

    • decent chance you’re getting on a lot of planes, you’re eating a lot of pizza, you’re being offered a lot of free beer can get to you.

    • If you can, you avoiding burn-out should really be your manager’s responsibility, but at the end of the day, it's your responsibility.

Best thing you can do for your future career is, firstly, just not destroy yourself for a job!

For Both (Breaking into and Already in)

  • Acting like the adult that you are at most situations definitely helps!

  • Networking is fine but...

    • Can be "Magical and exhausting"!

    • Networking meaningfully can be hard.

      • It's easy to spam a certain number of people with "Hey! We are working on this project", here's the signup link.

      • Developing a meaningful conversation, actually asking them about "Adding value to whatever they are already doing" is difficult.

    • Use personal CRM

      • Never write anything that you wouldn't want others to see.

      • Example of noting it correctly - this person works for this company. I met them at this thing. They’re working on this stuff.

  • Creating a "Do not work" list

DevRel forever!?

Nobody necessarily stays in DevRel forever

  • "Oh, you know I’m only around for the next six months and then I’d love to be doing what you’re doing" -- gets fired. 🥲

  • If you have plans to do so, doing it in subtle ways is the 🔑

    • Write blogs posts about your upcoming interests

    • Talk openly with folks already in the field

    • Continue updating your CV with your work in the field that you are interested in.

      • Doesn't have to be a live version on LinkedIn, put notes to yourself can help you track your progress.

Fan-shaped goals?

  • A way to track and build towards multiple goals at the same time.

  • Helps when there are multiple fields you are interested in, for your future career.

  • Mapping out things you would learn along the way for each goal helps you understand the whole outcome in a better way.

    • Map 3 or 4 paths, not 12!

  • No model is perfect, but this will definitely help you sum your areas of interest and your work in it.

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